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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to Transact-SQL
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good, But Not That Good

I bought this book because of all the hype reviews. But after having read it, I didn't find the book that good.
This book is like another version of the Book Online documentation with fancy wordings inserted here and there to take up space. Also, I find the author's writing style difficult to comprehend. Phrase like "In this chapter, you will explored the ubiquitous, omnipotent Transact-SQL...". Gee, since when sql programming have to be written in POETIC language?
I find this book boring to read after a while - lots of fast forward reading to find the BEEF! This book contains tons of code samples, but many of them dealt with trivial materials unfortunately (in my opinion); and having to compile these trivial materials can only strain your eyes and focus.
Though there are some very good chapters in this book. Chapter 6 on the SELECT statement is very good. It covers a wide range of scenarios, such as sub-correlated and alias queries, plus some new features of Transact-SQL. Chapter 16 on performance is also good. Finally, chapter 18 on Full-Text search is excellent. Clear and concise, straight to the point with clean code examples. Also, it pointed out some very important issues.
I don't regret buying this book at all. Infact, this book does contains some valuable tips that will no doubt elevate your sql programming skill. Unfortunately though, you will have to do a lots of filter reading to extract those goodies.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML Pocket Reference (2nd Edition)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jennifer Niederst
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
if you "know" HTML, this is all you need

Since 1994 I've been writing HTML code occasionally for my collection of websites. Most of the time I don't need a guide, but sometimes I've forgotten some color codes or attributes of the tags. That's why I keep this pocket guide within reach - in those cases I find the answer within the minute. It's the only HTML book I need, having a lot of HTML experience, that is. If you have less HTML experience, you probably need to look elsewhere.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon--The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Authors: Steven L. Kent
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Outstanding. Extremely informative and deep.

I've been playing video games for 20 years now. I began with the Atari, saw the market crash, grew up with Nintendo, and got caught up in the 90's proliferation of newer and hotter systems. I know a great deal about the industry, yet this book puts my knowledge to shame.

Exhaustively researched and crammed ridiculously full of information, anecdotes, and hundreds of direct quotes from every walk of video game life, this book is worth more than one read-through. My copy is well-worn because I find it so easy to take with me on plane trips and just start reading through at random points. It's written in a very friendly, conversational tone and engages you with its prose. The book is extremely interesting because the author is clearly interested in the subject himself. He manages to get the kind of details and answer the type of questions you'd want to know, yet stays very thorough and accurate throughout.

Loads of different subjects are covered, sometimes at great length: The bar where Pong was first tested. Nintendo's lawsuit against Galoob's Game Genie. Tengen illegally producing Nintendo games and the big N's forceful prosecution. The battles over Donkey Kong and Tetris. The founding of Electronic Arts. Sega's mid 90's dominance and slip of the cd based systems. The furor over Mortal Kombat. School shootings. I can't list enough, and I can't go on enough about it. This book is extremely comprehensive and covers the entire video game industry and all its major players chronologically from the 70s until the turn of the century. It's well-written, accurate (given all those direct insider quotes) and completely objective. One of the best things about it is the fact that it gives details of so many things from my video game youth, such as the first Nintendo commercials, as well as the good old days of parents rampaging through stores for a copy of the "low supply" games. Aside from interesting industry information, this book helped me reminisce.

I've read "Game Over" (the only book comparable to this one on the subject, though it centers on Nintendo), "Phoenix, the Fall and Rise of Videogames, "Masters of Doom", and several other video game books. Honestly, this one still entertains me after four years. Though it ends at about the dawn of the PS2 and Xbox, it covers so much history and gives so many informative, interesting, and humorous stories that it really does deserve the title "Ultimate". Forgive me for not being more objective, but I must shrug and stick to my story. At 500 pages, and with such a wealth of information about so many familiar faces, companies, and games, I just find this to be the best book on the subject without question. Absolutely worth checking out for any video game player.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning Java Databases: JDBC, SQL, J2EE, EJB, JSP, XML
Publisher: Wrox Press
Authors: Kevin Mukhar, Todd Lauinger, John Carnell
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5

Having read over two-thirds of this huge volume, I am now of the opinion that it probably is not the best place to begin exploring Java database development. The word "Beginning" in the title is a bit misleading: you shouldn't approach this book without a solid grounding in Java and databases in general. True, the introductory chapters cover essential SQL and other database concepts, but there is a steady ramping-up in the difficulty level as the book progresses, and it doesn't ever really level off. For example, Lauinger's treatment of his own Java Layered Frameworks open-source project in Chapter 16 is long-winded and daunting. And the later chapters assume complete familiarity with XML, JavaBeans, Servlets, and other more "advanced" topics. So, all in all, for the JDBC beginner I think that this is not the best book to begin your explorations of JDBC.
On the other hand, this is an exceptionally thorough book, very well written and with few typos. The authors are likeable, the price is affordable, the presentation and the coding are laid out well, the printing and binding excellent. So it may be just the book for you if you have the patience to plod through its 900 pages. Certainly, the book makes an excellent reference. However, it only covers the business logic of Java database applications. Most of the examples in the book are console-based programs for testing the business logic. There is no coverage of GUI-related topics, for example how to present data in a grid. As one of the authors remarks somewhere, their purpose in writing the book was not to present "pretty GUI's" but rather to concentrate on the internals, the business logic. While I can understand the importance of business logic, I also would have liked these experts to have given me some good pointers on how to present data in various data-aware controls in a GUI. After 600+ pages, I'm still waiting....